Refugee crisis? What refugee crisis?


Théodore Géricault

Seventy years ago, after the world had witnessed the unspeakable horrors people are capable of, Eleanor Roosevelt stood in front of the United Nations and spoke out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And she proclaimed amongst others, that: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. (…) Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. (…) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own (…)

But now our political leaders find these human rights a burden, a nuisance, a joke. Seventy lears later, after the world vowed ‘never again’, we have a pussy grabbing chimp in the White House who has turned immorality, corruption, sexism, racism, nepotism, abuse of power and lying into his life mission. Into some sort of obscene form of higher art.

And before I continue, let me just tell you. I am Robert de Niro. I am Michelle Wolf. I am Samantha Bee. I am the Red Hen. When it comes to human rights and the sanctity of human life that is under threat, I don’t do civility. As one writer stated in an article ‘In the age of Trump, calls for civility are calls for servility’. And not just Trump, the extreme-right has spread like a virus. In the age of Wilders and Baudet, or actually 90% of Dutch political parties, in the age of Orbán and Le Pen, in the age of Salvini, we are way, way past any form of civility.

Because there is simply no bigger profanity than dishonouring human life. No bigger scandal than separating children from their parents. No bigger disgrace than emprisoning parents who ask for asylum. No bigger travesty than laughing at people who drown in the Mediterranean looking for a better and safer life.

We live in a time where extreme-right propagandists dressed up as journalists defame without any hesitation the father of a three year old boy called Alan Kurdi whose lifeless body reached the Turkish shore.

Ann Coulter called the crying children separated from their parents in the States ‘child actors’ and urged Trump ‘not to fall for it’.

In Italy the newly elected interior minister wants to persecute Roma and Sinti people.

Hungary has turned into a full blown fascist autocracy.

Here in Holland our government separated Armina form her two children Lili and Howick.

Also here in Holland, the dandy of the extreme-right, Thierry Baudet would rather have boats filled with refugees drown in the sea than reach our European shores.

Forget civility
This is how far we have come. The dehumanization has become a matter of fact. No longer something you should be ashamed of but a political asset.

In America encounters with the police have become lethal for Black people. White police officers have no regard whatsoever for Black lives.

But Black lives matter. Muslim lives matter. The lives of native Americans matter. Latin American lives matter. Roma and Sinti lives matter. Syrian, African, Yemeni, Palestinian, Jewish, Rohingya lives matter. Refugees’ lives matter. We can only say that all lives matter, once they actually, unequivocally do. Of every minority, regardless of any distinction.

So, I’ll behave today since there are children here, and say F. civility. Forget civility.

If anything, politicians should be servile. They should be serving us. Attending to our needs and benefits instead of their ambitions and careers.

Don’t be fooled by the hawkish, apocalyptic talk about the migration or refugee crisis. There is no migration crisis, the number of refugees seeking asylum have gone down dramatically. There is however a moral crisis. A very deep, disconcerting one that will in the end affect all of us.

And the only way to stop this, is to speak up. People have been silent for too long, giving all the space and room to these nationalistic merchants of hate, sexism and racism. The prophets of doom and decay.

Don’t let them intimidate you. Don’t let them frame you or bully into silence. Don’t think that your one voice won’t make a change. Don’t believe that it’s okay to disagree. It’s okay to disagree when it comes to fashion or food or which series you like best.

But not when it comes to fundamental issues such as human rights and fascism. Don’t think you’re alone. We are not alone and we are not weak. We can impose our voice. Just look at what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did. We have the power to change this political course. We can vote politicians in office and we can kick them out. We can be as loud and bold – even louder and bolder than these extremists who have taken to the stage.

Recently a colleague told me that as a journalist he couldn’t speak up. I am a journalist too and really there is no profession on earth that releases you from the moral obligation to call out injustice and stand up against it.

So let’s repeat tirelessly: Human rights are non-negotiable. None of us are equal unless all of us are equal. Or as Emma Lazarus wrote: Until we are all free, we are none of us free.

Hands off our children. Hands off our fellow human beings. Hands off our human rights.

Speech for the Solidarity March Amsterdam on June 30th 2018.